Justice Scale

The attorney representing the Honda Motor Company in a wrongful death suit has sent an unusual request to the Sullivan School District, specifically the high school.

According to court documents filed Monday, the school district was issued a subpoena to supply yearbooks from 2016 and 2019 to the automaker’s defense counsel by Oct. 21.

Honda Motor Company is one defendant in a wrongful death suit filed by the family of Mason Kirk, 18, who was killed in a head-on crash on Route H last fall.

In addition to Honda, Kirk’s family also is suing the teen who was driving the other car involved in the fatal crash.

The lawsuit was filed June 13 by Edward Morgan Kirk and Amy Garner, both of Sullivan, seeking unspecified damages from Honda and Alyssa Sharp, 16, Sullivan, for the death on Sept. 16, 2018.

A Missouri Highway Patrol preliminary report from the crash states Kirk was driving a 2018 Honda Pilot southbound at 6:35 p.m. south of Highway J when his car crossed the centerline and struck a 2011 GMC Terrain driven by Sharp.

Kirk was pronounced dead at Missouri Baptist Hospital, Sullivan. Sharp was transported to St. Louis Children’s Hospital by air ambulance.

Proceedings

The first status hearing in this case has been set for Thursday, Oct. 3, but there has already been a bevy of activity from attorneys representing all of the parties involved in the lawsuit in the past three months.

The case originally was assigned to Associate Circuit Judge Craig Hellmann, but the trial will now be presided over by Senior Judge Gael Wood.

On Aug. 9, attorneys representing Honda motioned for a special trial setting and sent subpoenas to Missouri Baptist Hospital, the hospital EMS who treated both patients at the scene, and the Franklin County medical examiner for all records concerning the investigation into Kirk’s death.

Subpoenas also have been issued to AT&T Mobility for cellphone records of three different telephone numbers used on Sept. 16, 2018.

No specific damages being sought are listed in the lawsuit that alleges Sharp’s negligent driving and faulty equipment in the Honda Pilot contributed to Kirk’s death.

Sharp

Although the lawsuit does not dispute the Highway Patrol preliminary report that Kirk’s vehicle crossed the centerline, it still alleges Sharp did not react quickly enough to avoid the collision.

Court documents state Kirk was traveling northbound on Route H. He drove around a curve in the roadway and collided head-on with Sharp, who was traveling southbound on Route H.

The suit alleges Sharp failed to keep a careful lookout, drove at an excessive speed, failed to stop, swerve or apply the brakes when there was sufficient time to do so in order to prevent her vehicle from colliding with the Honda driven by Kirk; was inattentive in driving her vehicle; and failed to act once the danger of collision between her vehicle and Kirk’s became apparent.

Honda

The suit alleges the Honda Pilot Kirk was driving was defective and unreasonably dangerous in several respects, including, but not limited to, the following:

• The front driver seat system was assembled, installed, marketed, distributed and sold with defectively manufactured seat frame rivets;

• The seat system, including its component parts, failed to function properly in a foreseeable crash, allowing the front seat to separate from the vehicle floor and increasing the risk of injury to the seated occupant;

• The seat system, including its component parts, lacked adequate testing and/or inspection to ensure it was reasonably suitable for its intended purpose and provided adequate occupant protection in foreseeable crash conditions before it was distributed and sold.

As a result of these and other factors, the plaintiffs sustained medical expenses; funeral expenses; the physical, mental and emotional pain and suffering endured by Kirk between the time of his injury and his death.